Fire Doors! Why are they so important?
Have you ever wondered why on such a hot day, doors with ‘Fire door keep shut!’ signs on them aren’t allowed to be kept open to let a cool breeze in? This weeks’ blog will help you to understand the importance of fire doors and why it is essential they are kept closed.
When it comes to fire safety, fire doors are one of the most important fundamentals that could protect your business and save lives. They are designed to prevent the smoke or fire from spreading throughout the building and help contain it in one room or compartment. This enables the occupants to vacate the premises and allow the emergency services to arrive in enough time before devastating damage is done to the building and/or people in it.
What’s the difference between fire doors and other doors?
- Fire doors are specially designed to resist the passage of fire and smoke
- Fire doors are made of composite materials and are much heavier than normal internal doors. This means they can be more difficult to push or pull open
- They need to be fitted with a door closer so they shut automatically
- Fire doors need a seal around the edges which swells when heated to block any gaps.
- If the doors are fitted with windows, it needs to be fire-resistant glazing
- All ironmongery on the door needs to be fire-resistant as well
How long do fire doors need to resist fire?
The most commonly installed fire door is FD30 which is designed to resist fire for a minimum of 30 minutes. Sometimes a FD60 is required, which resists fire for a minimum of 60 minutes and also has fully tested seals for smoke resistance. It is important that fire doors are certified against a furnace test using a time-temperature curve.
How long they will actually resist a real fire depends on a number of things, including orientation of the fire to the door, what is burning and the energy release rate, etc. They may fail sooner in a real fire, however, they may not fail at all. Meaning that even if you are standing behind an FD60, it does not necessarily mean you can wait for an hour with the fire on the other side of the door in safety. It is up to the specifier to decide which door is required.
Fire door elements
- Ideally, the frame should be the same standard as the door and purchased from the same manufacturer.
- Hinges should be tested and fire rated.
- Vision panels should be made from fire-resistant glass.
- Door handles and locks should also be tested as part of the door set.
- Intumescent strips and smoke seals should be installed to prevent the spread of smoke and fires.
- Securing devices and signs are essential in ensuring everyone complies with the use of the door.
- Fire-rated closers should be installed to ensure the door closes once opened to reduce the risk of it being left open in the event of a fire
How do I know if I need a fire door?
Fire doors are mainly used in commercial buildings, such as hotels and office buildings but they are also mandatory in some domestic homes, depending on the country specific building regulations. The answer is, you need to check your building regulations. The majority of fire doors are fitted internally but in certain situations they may be required for external use, such as a sheltered passageway. The regulations are there to specify the legal requirement for fire safety.
BDL’s top 5 regulations
We have listed 5 fire door regulations that we think are important for you to know;
- A building must have a ‘Responsible Person’ who is required to manage risk assessments and endorse any necessary dangers highlighted by them. This includes checking that the fire doors function properly.
- Fire doors are required to offer the same grade of fire resistance as facets of the structure such as floors and walls. These are evaluated in the same way and held to the same standards.
- Smoke detecting regulations are relevant to fire doors also, as the systems can be integrated. In such cases, the correct procedures must be followed.
- Fire doors must also meet disability access regulations too, so they must be designed with this in mind.
- Structures themselves must be compliant, otherwise, they will be unable to have fire doors fitted in.
Wrapping it up
The main function of a fire door is to help contain and control a fire, acting as a barrier between it and the next room. Regular doors typically cannot withstand the heat of a fire for very long and can be the entryway for the fire to spread. A fire door, however, can be treated in various ways and be given different ratings to show how long it can withstand heat from a fire. Doors can start at ratings of 20 minutes and go up as high as 90 minutes.
Fire doors are important because they allow people the chance to escape the premises. They contain and isolate the fire in one area to help prevent further devastation of products and property. A fire door can mean the difference between minimal repairs and rebuilding or even losing an entire business for good.